Lack of humoral immune protection against Treponema denticola virulence in a murine model

Lakshmyya Kesavalu, Stanley C. Holt, Jeffrey L. Ebersole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study investigated the characteristics of humoral immune responses to Treponema denticola following primary infection, reinfection, and active immunization, as well as immune protection in mice. Primary infection with T. denticola induced a significant (400-fold) serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) response compared to that in control uninfected mice. The IgG response to reinfection was 20,000-fold higher than that for control mice and 10-fold higher than that for primary infection. Mice actively immunized with formalin-killed treponemes developed serum antibody levels seven- to eightfold greater than those in animals after primary infection. Nevertheless, mice with this acquired antibody following primary infection or active immunization demonstrated no significant alterations of lesion induction or decreased size of the abscesses following a challenge infection. Mice with primary infection developed increased levels of IgG3, IgG2b, and IgG2a antibodies, with IgG1 being lower than the other subclasses. Reinfected mice developed enhanced IgG2b, IgG2a, and IgG3 and less IgG1. In contrast, immunized mice developed higher IgG1 and lower IgG3 antibody responses to infection. These IgG subclass distributions indicate a stimulation of both Th1 and Th2 activities in development of the humoral immune response to infection and immunization. Our findings also demonstrated a broad antigen reactivity of the serum antibody, which was significantly increased with reinfection and active immunization. Furthermore, serum antibody was effective in vitro in immobilizing and clumping the bacteria but did not inhibit growth or passively prevent the treponemal infection. These observations suggest that humoral immune responses, as manifested by antibody levels, isotype, and antigenic specificity, were not capable of resolving a T. denticola infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5736-5746
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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